Rate this page:

Employee Directory with Ruby and Rails

Learn how to implement an employee directory that you can query using SMS. Request information from anyone at your company just by sending a text message to a Twilio Number

Here is how it works at a high level:

  • The user sends a SMS with an Employee's name to the Twilio number.
  • The user receives information for the requested Employee.
Let's get started!

Handle Twilio's SMS Request

When your Twilio Number receives an SMS, Twilio will make a POST request to /directory/search asking for TwiML instructions.

Once the application identifies one of the 3 possible scenarios (single partial match, multiple partial match or no match), it will send a TwiML response to Twilio. This response will instruct Twilio to send an SMS Message back to the user.


        Employee Directory Controller


        Let's take a closer look at each one of the scenarios.

        Find an Exact Employee Match

        Find an Exact Employee Match

        This is the simplest scenario. We query our database expecting to find an employee whose first and last name are exactly like the ones we specified in the SMS that was sent to our Twilio number. If a match is found, a message containing this employee's information is built and sent to Twilio as TwiML instructions.


              Finding an Exact Employee Match


              If no match is found we'll try to do a single partial match. That is our next possible scenario.

              Find a Single Partial Employee Match

              Find a Single Partial Employee Match

              If no employee's exact match is found on the database we'll try to find a close match using Fuzzily Gem. In this scenario we'll verify that only 1 partial match is obtained. When a single partial match is found, the user will receive a suggestion containing it. The user will be given the opportunity to reply with the word yes to this SMS. If that were the case, the user will receive the information for the employee that was chosen.

              We'll show you how the suggestions are stored for the SMS conversation using Twilio Cookies a few steps later.


                    Find a Single Partial Employee Match


                    Now that we know how to find individual employees, lets see how we can get multiple results.

                    Find Multiple Partial Employee Matches

                    Find Multiple Partial Employee Matches

                    At this point we have already tried to use the user's query as an exact employee match and a single partial match. Now we'll try to get a partial match that returns more than one result. Just like in the previous scenario, we'll use Twilio Cookies to store suggestions. Then only difference here is that we need to store a Hash containing index suggestions so that the user can reply with a number that references one of the suggestions in order to get all the employee's information.

                    The last scenario is simple. If none of the previous scenarios occur, it means that there is no employee in the database that matches the user's query. In that case, a reply will be sent to the user explaining that their query doesn't match any of the employees found on the database.


                          Find Multiple Partial Employee Matches


                          Now that we have full search functionality lets see how we can optimize it by caching search suggestions in the browser's cookies.

                          Store Suggestions With Cookies

                          Storing Suggestions With Cookies

                          When a user gets a partial match by searching the employee directory, we reply with one or more suggestions. We need to store this suggestions, so the next time the user sends an SMS we know this is not a query for a new employee, but a selection of one of the suggestions.

                          We'll use Twilio Cookies to store suggestions. They will allow you to keep track of an SMS conversation between multiple numbers and your Twilio powered application.


                                That's it! We have just implemented employee directory using Ruby on Rails. Now you can get your employee's information by texting a Twilio number.

                                Where to next?

                                Where to next?

                                If you're a Ruby developer working with Twilio, you might also enjoy these tutorials:

                                Ruby Quickstart for Programmable Voice

                                Learn how to use Twilio Client to make browser-to-phone and browser-to-browser calls with ease.

                                ETA Notifications with Ruby and Rails

                                Learn how to implement ETA Notifications using Ruby on Rails and Twilio.

                                Did this help?

                                Thanks for checking out this tutorial! If you have any feedback to share with us, we'd love to hear it. Tweet @twilio to let us know what you think!

                                David Prothero Kat King Jose Oliveros
                                Rate this page:

                                Need some help?

                                We all do sometimes; code is hard. Get help now from our support team, or lean on the wisdom of the crowd by visiting Twilio's Stack Overflow Collective or browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.


                                      Thank you for your feedback!

                                      Please select the reason(s) for your feedback. The additional information you provide helps us improve our documentation:

                                      Sending your feedback...
                                      🎉 Thank you for your feedback!
                                      Something went wrong. Please try again.

                                      Thanks for your feedback!

                                      Refer us and get $10 in 3 simple steps!

                                      Step 1

                                      Get link

                                      Get a free personal referral link here

                                      Step 2

                                      Give $10

                                      Your user signs up and upgrade using link

                                      Step 3

                                      Get $10

                                      1,250 free SMSes
                                      OR 1,000 free voice mins
                                      OR 12,000 chats
                                      OR more